Show Me Your Wares, Gypsy Woman (While I Figure Out A Way To Get Out Of Here)

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Craft Fairs: I have been to two of them in the past two weeks and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

As a large man wearing a flannel shirt and a baseball cap who hasn’t shaved or showered in 24 hours and is simply on the hunt for free food samples and certain hand-crafted items made from wood, metal or leather while spending quality time with the family, my kind is scarce at those events and represents probably 1 in 1500 of the attendees at any holiday craft fair. Nevertheless, I enjoy them, as it helps to usher in the holiday season with all of the Santa knick-knacks and such.

Beyond the reasons I’ve listed above, there is an uncomfortable interpersonal dynamic that goes on there that adds to my enjoyment.

That dynamic begins when you walk up and browse the hand-made wares on display at the crafter’s booth. You can see a little flash of excitement in their eyes as the artist raises up out of their lawn chair to proudly tell you about what they’ve created. As the individual who has captured their attention with my browsing interest, I feel that it’s only right that I act interested in their hand-made, yarn fanny packs with a big picture of St. Nick hot-glued to the front – even though I would never in a million years buy one for myself or anyone I know.

I guess I feel like when someone is that excited about telling me about their craft, it’s cruel to act indifferent or, even worse, ask them why they thought the world would be a better place with that in it and what makes them think that I’d ever spend money on something like that? Instead, I try to show an appreciation and admiration of their effort and enthusiasm (which is genuine) and look for opportunities to slip away undetected so I don’t have to see their look of disappointment when they can’t close the deal with me (which is also genuine). Instead of that disappointment, when I sneak away they’re left with more of a “hey, where’d that guy go who seemed to really like my art?” kind of feeling.

I should clarify that it’s not that I think their art and/or craft is crap, it’s just that we all have individual tastes and styles. Just like anyone else, mine are pretty specific and I can’t see myself purchasing a wind chime made from some old pots and pans and fishing line. I appreciate the creativity that goes into that but I live in a neighborhood with a home owners association who leaves me nastygrams when I line my two garbage cans up in an orderly fashion on the side of my house because they shouldn’t be visible from the street – they’ll never approve the sight or sound of suspended cookware designed to sound the alarm when the wind is blowing…but I appreciate and understand how some might be into that sort of art – just not me or my HOA.

The moments leading up to my escape are really uncomfortable but when I successfully manage to slink away undetected, the old craft-show-slip feeling it provides is exhilarating and like no other. I get more proficient at it each time. It makes me think this is what they mean when they say ‘there is no growth in comfort and there is no comfort in growth.’

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